You might not remember this, but around the time Jay-Z‘s “Decoded” came out, it was announced that some writer from Forbes was writing an unauthorized biography about him.
The biography, “Empire State Of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office,” has been out since March 17. You probably haven’t heard about that much about it, which we’re sure the all mighty Hov and Illuminati cronies had a hand in.
But they didn’t stop it from coming out. Which means Jay wasn’t worried about it. Because the author claims Camel has definitely read it.
Greenburg also notes that Jay’s camp may have sped up the release date of his part memoir, part lyrical explanation guide ‘Decoded’ in an attempt to curb the press behind the ‘Empire State of Mind’ biography. “As the thing was moving along I kept emailing his publicist saying, ‘Do you want me to send you an advanced copy?” Greenburg discloses. “I didn’t hear anything back. A couple weeks before it came out she said, ‘Please can you messenger over a couple copies,’ and since then I’ve heard from a couple of mutual acquaintances that they’ve talked to Jay-Z at parties and he’s certainly aware of it. The last person that I talked to about it says he denies having read it, but this person thinks he has in fact read it and just doesn’t want to tell anybody.”
The author Zack O’Malley Greenburg may have tapped every salty ni**a with a Jay-Z grudge as sources for the book – from DeHaven to Jaz-O to no dough Dame Dash – he didn’t set out to completely make Illuminati Hov sound as self-serving and cowardly as others have over the years.
Greenburg hopes that the book will enlighten readers to previously undiscussed topics around Jay-Z’s life and career. As a writer for Forbes, Greenburg is the man behind their yearly Hip-Hop Cash Kings list, of which Jay-Z has appeared on since its inception in 2007, and continues to work as an editor and journalist in the hip-hop community.
“I set out to write it in as balanced a way possible,” he explained. “First and foremost, this is a great American rags to riches story that Jay-Z has come from having absolutely nothing to absolutely everything. I don’t think that you can knock him too much regardless of what you’re thinking just based on the sheer volume of what he’s accomplished. That said, he’s really cut out a lot of people along the way and whether or not he was justified in doing so, I try to leave that up to the reader.”
He actually originally wanted Jay in on his project.
According to Greenburg, he refused to take part in the project without a promise of personal financial gain. “My first action when I wrote the book was to go to [Jay-Z’s manager] John Meneilly,” he states. “I wanted to get them on board and I went in and I thought it would be a slam dunk. Here I am writing this business book, this biography, a Forbes writer writing about Jay-Z, he’s got so much invested in his image as a businessman [that] I thought it would be a great opportunity that he would want to be involved in. I pitched the book, the response that I got was, ‘What’s in it for us?’ The more you look at it, that’s how Jay-Z operates, he doesn’t do anything unless he’s getting something out of it.”
As a result, the secrets he shares are the kind of Jay-Z facts you could probably have guessed on your own. For example, business overrides personal in the Knowles-Carter household.
Clearly, Jay-Z and Beyoncé haven’t allowed marriage to get in the way of their rigorous touring and recording schedules. Being able to afford private jets is helpful, but even when they’re on the road to see each other perform in concert work comes first. On one occasion in early 2008, Beyoncé flew to Miami for a Jay-Z show but made sure to schedule some time in the recording studio beforehand with James “Jim Jonsin” Scheffer, a Grammy-winning producer based in South Florida.
Beyoncé set up a time to come to Jonsin’s studio and listen to a few tracks he’d cooked up, including the one that eventually became ‘Sweet Dreams,’ a hit single. “We made the track, and she comes by around four or five o’clock to listen to it; she’s going to go to Jay-Z’s concert at six,” recalls Jonsin. “So we play some music for her. That particular song, she went nuts. She loved it. She insisted on going in the vocal booth and recording it right then and there, so she started cutting it, and she was late to Jay-Z’s concert.”
Hmmm. Does that surprise you?